Stress! My Journey Of Learning To Manage Stress…

Do you want to live healthier?

Do you want to prevent and or manage diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac problems, Alzheimer’s, G.I. problems, osteoporosis, insomnia, and more?   You have that possibility through your choice to live more peacefully within yourself and lower your stress hormones.  The adrenal hormone, cortisol, that puts us into the fight or flight syndrome is excessive in our modern day age.  In its defense, cortisol help us deal with life and stay focused on a desired outcome. But produced in excess, it can have debilitating effects on our health.  Here’s the catch: Most of what our bodies go through to produce excessive cortisol is absolutely driven by our thoughts and what we are telling ourselves about our life situation…  This is the mind/body in action...As a wholistic nutrition counselor, I am here to support you, not only in improving your nutrition, but in managing your stress.  You so deserve to live the life you love!

My Journey of Learning to Manage Stress

When I was 15, my stress and anxiety levels were so intense that I developed a full-blown eating disorder.   Over-eating and under-eating became the only thing that helped me to feel like I was managing something!  My motivation to heal my life, coupled with finding tools and new behaviors are among what helps me to love my life!  My first therapist taught me to start paying attention to what I was telling myself because I was beating myself up.  On my healing journey I learned to practice noticing the voice of my inner critic:  the Perfectionist, the Pleaser, the Pusher, the Comparer, and the Rule Maker. Like cortisol, these “parts” mean well, but end up wreaking havoc on our health and well-being.  When I was 18, I started meditating, and never stopped.  This supports me in being a neutral “observer” and realize that I am not that voice.  Meditation more than anything I know can have the effect of helping me to be able to see where my thoughts want to go, its like my thoughts have a mind of their own!  From this awareness, I have the option of a different choice and can choose to “practice” kindness. It does take practice but it is worth it!

Cortisol Messes with Appetite and Cravings!
We know that excessive cortisol  levels can drive our appetites and cause cravings –  since one of the roles of cortisol is to encourage “re-fueling” after responding to a stressor. Yikes! A physiological drive to eat, coupled with the emotionally calming effects of eating.   If we eat high glycemic processed foods, blood sugar will go up fast, then down fast.  That shakey feeling is the release of cortisol and adrenaline to support normal functioning when blood sugar is low.  This is a dilemma since stress may cause the desire to eat more processed foods, and eating more processed foods can cause stress and elevated cortisol!  

Tips for Reducing Stress Hormones
Manage Blood Sugar! Eat a little protein through out the day.  Eating breakfast with protein at or before 8 am is a huge help to the cortisol/blood sugar/energy conundrum.  Eating a solid blood sugar stabilizing breakfast will support energy and stability for the whole day. Its a foundation to create a good day.

Practice Meditation! A physician specializing in adrenal burnout once told me that meditation is more powerful than exercise for decreasing excessive cortisol.  Indeed, meditation can change us. It can help us to manage our thoughts and helps the physical body to re-set and balance neurochemistry and endocrine system.  20 minutes of practice is a powerful resource to the brain, mind, and body.  It will lower cortisol when excessive, and quicken a healing process, mind and body.  If you want to learn about it, I recommend finding a class, or downloading an app  – “Headspace” is a popular app.  Research shows that to create a new habit, it is ideal if we practice at the same time of day for 10-21 days.  My best time is before my feet hit the floor in the morning.

Increase your Oxytocin!  Anything that increases the “love hormone”  is a worthy endeavor!  We make oxytocin when we spend time with people that we love.  High levels of Oxytocin is now known as the greatest predictor of health, well-being and longevity.  This hormone is a powerful ally in helping us manage stress. When we are with friends, we get to forget about stress, and the brain gets to change gears.  How about planning a weekly event with loved ones, a meal, a picnic (double support to be in nature with loved ones), any kind of getting together for enjoyment.

Here are my favorite adrenal support supplements :
These supplements may reduce cortisol, anxiety and insomnia:   Phosphatidylserine and Theanine.
Adaptogens or “tonics” for the adrenals: Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, and Eleuthro.
Calming and relaxing:  Valerian, Passion Flower, DLPA, and SAMe.

Anthony Robbins said  that our brains and our bodies are not well equipped for living in our modern day age.  Our brains are wired for fear and survival.  Perhaps we have reached the day and age that our well-being and possibly our survival depends  learning to live from our heart – vs our old “fear brain” patterns. Take time for yourself, for self care, for good food, for friends and family.  Choose love because you can! 

-Lauren Kanzler. She is a board certified clinical nutritionist based in Tucson, AZ and has been helping clients for 35 years transform their health and reduce their issues with weight-management, diabetes, eating disorders, and beyond.